Sunday sketch #52

Recently I took part in Ms Midge‘s Aussie Charm Swap of Carolyn Friedlander fabrics… 56 eager participants contributed 56 charm squares each from 2 fabrics, and received charms of 112* different fabrics in return.

The prints come from any and all CF fabric lines: Architextures, Botanics, Carkai, Doe, Euclid and Friedlander (I have to list them in alphabetical order… it pleases me too much that the names start with A, B, C, D, E and F…! 🙂 )

I learned from my experience with the Heather Bailey charm swap that it’s worth thinking carefully about your quilt design before you start cutting into the fabric. I ended up making a gazillion half-square triangles for that one, only to realise too late that their small size obscured the fabric designs and just didn’t work (two years later, it’s still in the WIP pile).

So, how best to showcase Carolyn Friedlander fabrics? Her designs are simple and uncomplicated, sometimes sparse and often restrained. Her colour palette, like her imagery, reflects the natural and the man-made. To make the fabrics the focus of my quilt, I need a pattern that reflects these characteristics.

Working with 5″ squares also limits my options. I don’t want to stick with the square shape, but I do want to minimise the amount of cutting. There’s not a whole lot of fabric to begin with, and every cut means losing up to half an inch to a new seam.

I’ve sketched something fairly simple that I think could work….


I need to think about the best way to make each arrow. I’m not sure yet if I want to feature two fabrics in each arrow (split down the middle, as in the sketch), or just one. As for the best method, I’d like to minimise the number of seams (so I don’t disrupt the fabric design too much), but also get the best finished size. I’m weighing up:

  1. half-square triangles. Pros: easy; no waste if I use the four-at-once (‘alternative’) method. Cons: I’d have 3 seams within each arrow. Size: from a 5″ charm, I’d get ~3″ unfinished HSTs, which means each arrow would finish at 5″ x 5″.
  2. flying geese. Pros: easy; no waste. Cons: I’d have one long seam horizontally across each arrow. Size: from a single 5″ charm, the biggest flying geese I could make would finish at 2″ x 4″, so each arrow would be 4″ x 4″ at most.
  3. kitty-cornered strips (I’m sure there’s a proper name for this technique but I don’t know what it is…!). Basically, cutting each charm into two rectangles of equal size, then making them into parallelograms by adding a background triangle to the opposite ends; sew the rectangles together again down a long side to create the arrow shape. Pros: the vertical seam could be a feature if I use two different prints in each arrow. Cons: a bit of fabric waste. Size: the biggest possible arrow would be 4″ x 4.5″, but I want them to be square, so I’d go for 4″ x 4″.

My sketch has 9 columns of arrows separated by sashing that must be half the width of the arrows to maintain the diagonal lines between them. So even without any outside borders, the quilt will measure 13 times (9 columns + (8 columns x 0.5 width of arrows)) the width of the arrows (i.e. 4″ arrows = 52″ wide quilt; 5″ arrows = 65″ wide quilt). I’d like some large borders to isolate the arrows a bit, so I’d add maybe 10-12″ of background fabric to all sides too.

Also, this design includes only 81 arrows, but I have 112 charms. So I could add more columns or rows, or just pick and choose the ‘best’ fabrics to use, and leave the rest for another time.

I have lots of decisions to make! I’ll continue to think about this one… I like this design, but it might not be right for these fabrics. Maybe I’ll scrap this idea and try something else entirely. In the meantime, I’m happy looking at all these charms and sorting them into colour order!


* OK, 111 – one was a repeat. But who doesn’t love getting 2 of any CF fabric?!